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Any great Thai / Indian restaurants in the Westside?

  • m

I moved to LA a few years ago from the SF and really miss the great Indian and Thai food up there! They are my two favorite cuisines but I've yet to find a place in the Westside or let alone LA that would even rate as average in the Bay Area. I know overall for such a big city, LA has the rep of being a vapid culinary desert, but I generally find that only to be true if you stay within the trendy LA LA land circuit. If you wander into the ethnic neighborhoods, there is some great food to be found. I've had great Korean in k-town, Japanese in Torrance, Chinese anywhere near San Gabriel Valley. The question is, where is the great Thai and Indian food??? I'm looking for places in the Westside as we rarely like to drive more than 15 minutes to eat (have kids now) but I'd be willing to travel up to 45-min on occasion but the food needs to be exceptional!

Up in Mountain View there is a fabulous Northern Indian restaurant called Amber. I just ate there last week when I was in the Bay Area, and it made me kinda depressed because I can't find anything in LA which is even remotely close to as good. Even the run-of-the mill Pakistani-Indian fast food hole in the wall in SF (Nan'n Curry for instance) rates better than anything I've had in LA. That's downright pathetic... As to what type of Indian food, I don't care if it is Northern, Southern , Pakistani etc... I pretty much like it all except vegetarian only is not my first choice. Indian places I've tried in Westside:

Dhaba - OK
Akbar - overpriced crap
Nawab - mediocre
Pradeeps - pretentious crap on Montana, may be healthy but tasteless too...
Chandni - horrible buffet, extremely disappointed considering all the hype on Yelp.
India's Oven - don't remember but not memorable.
Jaipur - mediocre
Ambala Dhaba - good the first time, but disappointing my second time
India's Tandoori - some of the worst Indian food I've ever eaten
Chutneys - rates well compared to others on this list but's it's fast food...
Nizam - my favorite Indian place 20 years ago when I went to school here. Either food has gone downhill or my taste buds have matured.
Bombay Cafe - OK but overpriced.
Clay Pit - OK. Closed though.

As for my Thai food experience in the Westside. Some REALLY REALLY disturbing trends: 1) If they give you chop sticks, run for the hills. They rarely if at all use chop sticks in Thailand. The restaurant is run by Chinese. 2) Please don't give me Chinese rice with my red curry. I want jasmine rice like you get in Thailand. 3) If the rice is clumpy, they reused old rice by adding water and microwaving. Again run for the hills. Thai places I've tried (virtually all are guilty of one of the above):

California Vegan - oddly the best Thai food in the Westside
Thai Dishes - tastes like Chinese people making Thai food.
Pot & Pan - meh
T's Thai - crap
Typhoon - I want real Thai not fusion
Siam Chan - cheap fast food
Chan Dara - the worst crap I've ever eaten in my life
Greenview - good the first time, crossed off list after 2nd and 3rd visit.
Natalee - OK
Tuk Tuk - not memorable

I suppose I need to go to Thai Town to get great Thai food but the 2 or 3 places I randomly picked in the past were all underwhelming. Definitely spicier than the bland fare on the Westside but they were all cheap eat hole in the walls with subpar meats and vegetables. In NY and SF you can find authentic Thai and Indian flavors yet using the finest of ingredients. Does such a place exist in LA? I'd think it has to with 15M+ people...

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  1. My favorite Thai is Thai Boom on the north side of Venice about midway between Sepulveda and Overland at Midvale. Very good service, reasonable prices (lunch specials good all day, the last I heard), and I've enjoyed just about everything we've ordered there (though nothing has been really spicy). Not a unanimous hit on this board, but well-regarded.

    1 Reply
    1. imho, when at thai boom,
      go for the SALADS.

      stay away from the noodles.

      as for ekkamai, i used to get their veggie fresh rolls all the time and then they went downhill--they started using romaine lettuce in the filling and either reduced the amount of thai basil that they were using or maybe the romaine mix cancelled it out. can't speak to their other dishes. i tasted their pad thai once and was unimpressed.

    2. Interesting, true and sad.

      These cuisines are not good at all on the Westside...you may as well throw Chinese in as well.

      The only time I have had first rate Indian on the Westside is when an Indian friend of mine knows the owners or chef, and she asks them to prepare a meal for a group of people making all the sauces fresh, and using higher quality ingredients. We pay a bit more, but it is still relatively inexpensive, but the food is fantastic. She has done these meals at India's Oven (Barrington and Wilshire) and Tanzore (La Cienega). I think the main problem is that Westsiders won't pay for higher quality Indian food (because they have never had it, and don't even know what they are eating now is poorly sourced and prepared)...they just want very inexpensive Indian food with tons of garlic naan.

      As for Thai go to Rodded in Thaitown.

      13 Replies
      1. re: Ciao Bob

        There's a small, sort of upscale kosher place on San Vicente and Doheny called Beverly Hills Thai that was converted to kosher a few months ago so you won't find any pork or shellfish, but their food is still really good. And they have a coconut soup that I dream about...it's a small place, easy to miss, but the soup alone is worth the search!

        1. re: Ciao Bob

          You're right about Chinese food on the Westside. Thankfully my parents live in Pasadena so we go to SG Valley often. You can pretty much throw a dart and find a great Chinese restaurant there. Actually we found a passable Thai place there too but it's really LAME that there isn't once decent Thai place on the Westside for those times we crave it for takeout or lunch...

            1. re: m3tan

              Agree with nosh and Servorg - in my search the best WS Thai is at Thai Boom and Ekkamai. If you think Natalee is OK you should really like both of these, I'm betting. Be up front about how you want your food served (how spicy, which sort of rice, etc.), both should be great for you.

              1. re: CulverJack

                Another vote for Thai Boom. Nice folks; we've added them as a vendor for in-office lunch meetings. Haven't tried Ekkamai; it is a bit far for us, and last we read here, their deliberate pace made it difficult to imagine going there in a normal lunch hour.

                1. re: JTea

                  I went to Thai Boom once based on recommendations on this Board. Eh. I mean you could say it is good compared to Natalee or Tuk Tuk, which are God-awful, but that's not saying much.

                  1. re: omotosando

                    agree with Omotosando. Thai Boom was not worth the evening, at all.

            2. re: Ciao Bob

              would love to talk to your friend as I'm planning a dinner at India's Oven. also, anybody know of any Bengali restaurants in Greater L.A.?

              1. re: writebites

                Bengali as from the state of West Bengal in India? There are none.
                Bengali as in Bangladeshi - plenty - most of the Bangladeshi stores cook and sell food.
                Little Dhaka in Artesia - http://www.yelp.com/biz/little-dhaka-...
                Aladin Sweets and Market in Hollywood - http://www.yelp.com/biz/aladin-sweets...
                Deshi - http://www.yelp.com/biz/deshi-food-an...

              2. re: Ciao Bob

                LOL! Small world Bob! You're the one who wrote this comment I was referring to today about the owner preparing a special meal!

                1. re: m3tan

                  That IS funny - the world is small, and the chow-world even smaller. And, this is a great thread you started!

                  For Thai, I think Thor123 has it right when he mentions Night+Market and Emporium Thai on Westwood. And I always trust both Dommy and Servorg when they shout something(s) out - have you tried Mayura (Indian) or Ekkamai (Thai)? I have not, but I will, now that I am Westside (adjacent).

                  I think your mentions of Si Laa and Lawrence of India deserve some more reviews here on CH LA. Very few mentions of either - at least one poster says Lawrence is no more...hope that's not correct.

                  Maybe the "Silicon Beach" marketing scheme will help us with Indian as time goes by. I stand by my original post from a year ago - arrange a dinner at even the worst Indian in town, ask them to do it right (or have an Indian friend do it)and you are likely to have a beautiful experience.

                  And try SHUNJI!

                  1. re: Ciao Bob

                    Sorry CB -- Lawrence of India is currently not in service.

                2. re: Ciao Bob

                  Man I had a terrible, terrible meal at Rodded.

                3. For Indian I think two of the better spots are Annapurna and Mayura, both in Culver City. I wouldn't call either "using the finest ingredients", though. But these are among the best either my family or Indian friends who are willing to make do on the WS sometimes have found...

                  You might also try Samosa House - I didn't see that on your list.

                  Agree Nizam used to be great and fit what you are talking about quite well. I haven't been back in 4-5 years, but I thought it wasn't what it used to be.

                  1 Reply
                  1. re: CulverJack

                    I think Nizam has definitely gone downhill. It's still the same owner but he retired about 8 years ago and relatives are running it now. They are nice people (husband, wife, and kids) but it's nothing like it used to be...

                  2. Has anyone tried Si Laa on Robertson? Yelpers seem to like it. They describe it as upscale and unpretentious so maybe it has hope for meeting my criteria for better ingredients. I don't mind paying more when I know I'm getting more...

                    1. I 100% agree with your take on Chan Dara! I haven't tried any of the other Thai places you've been disappointed with BUT I do have a suggestion for you. Joom. I used to live a few blocks away and boy do I miss having good thai walking distance. I used to always get the same things-- wonderful Pad Se Ew, Delish Green Curry, and when i really needed some comfort food I'd get the orange tofu lunch special. It was crunchy and sweet, just what i needed on a bad day. I also like the Tom Yum Kha as well. I'd sometimes order that with some brown rice and it was a perfect meal. Joom is located at Beverly just east of Fairfax in a little strip mall.
                      I've also been to Galanga Thai which was mentioned on this board a few times so I finally checked it out myself. The first time I was bummed b/c i ordered the lunch special with panang curry and there was hardly any curry-- i ate it in two seconds and had tons of rice left over. The second time I ordered pad se ew and it was really good and i didn't leave hungry, but you must know i can't eat a lot in one sitting which is also why i couldn't believe i left hungry the first time. I guess just don't go for the lunch special, is my advice here. I haven't found any other thai place over here that's been as good as the two i've mentioned. Sorry, I got nothing on Indian food for you...